ALL the Hubris
"Understanding is an illusion. Explanation is impossible" Adam Robinson
As I've gotten older, the number of things I have done and seen has increased. My breadth of experience has expanded and my depth of knowledge has grown. As I add more and more pieces to "life's puzzle", it becomes easier to arrive at conclusions. Having experienced something before and knowing what caused it on the previous occasion to take place allows me to arrive at the conclusion its the same cause again. Or based on previous experiences, I can infer x caused y to take place. These are both reasonable stances to take as long as I do not solidify them as absolutes.
But as I age, it seems to become easier to arrive at an answer instead of asking, "what might I be missing here? Is there an 'x factor' playing a role I am missing?"
Adam Robinson (cited above) is a chess master, founded the Princeton Review and currently advises hedge funds and private equity firms on global investments. One of the things he threw out as occupying a large part of his time, is the search for data or experiences that make him think, "that doesn't make sense." When he bumps into these moments, rather than leap to a conclusion, he digs in.
One of the stories I have told repeatedly over the past year followed this exact thought pattern. In 2015, the ride sharing company Lyft, partnered with Starbucks. In the process of working to secure a meeting with the coffee company's CEO, Howard Schultz, Lyft's CEO rattled made this statement, "there are two things most adults need on any given morning. A cup of coffee and a ride to work." As I began to process this statement, its brilliance was hard to miss. We do not commonly associate the coffee experience and the getting to work journey as having anything in common. And until Lyft opened this door, it didn't. But as they attempt to reduce the friction between these two disparate activities, a new opportunity may have appeared.
In closing, the quote I have written on my office wall, and I've contemplated as a tattoo, comes from Joi Ito of the MIT Media Lab, "the world has plenty of expertise, what it lacks are agility and context."